Sunday, June 10, 2018

I'm Back from Italy and Everything Has Changed


I'm still exhausted from that mind-blowingly-long flight home, of course, but I'm starting to process our two week trip to another way of life. Italians still have their center right on family and friends and food and that deep enjoyment of everyday life, and I want to bring that back into my new life.

Here are some truths I want to keep with me:

1. Biting into a big red tomato doesn't have to be a disappointment.

Biting into a big red tomato was a glorious experience in Italy. Every single time. Are we really adding big red tomatoes to our salads and pizzas and hamburgers just for a splash of color? I want more from my tomatoes.

2. Work is important, but it isn't everything.

Americans work an average of 47 hours per week. Workers in Italy work an average of 38.8 hours. You do the math.

3. Savor.

No one came to my table in Italy five seconds after I ate my last bite of food and said, "Through with this plate?"

4. People.

Social media adds a delightful dimension to life (I wouldn't be talking with you right now if not for it) but it can also be a huge distraction. People. I want to focus on people. If it's not connecting me to others, it may need to go.

I'm still thinking about all these things.


I know about seismic life transitions, but it's been a long time since I actually experienced childbirth or marriage or getting a job. Now I'm head-first into some big ones. I have retired from the most wonderful job in the world, working as a primary school librarian. My husband has also retired. After working for forty-four years in various aspects of civil engineering, he will now be at home with me every day.

It's an opportunity to create our days for ourselves.

It's enormously exciting. It's enormously scary.

What are you reading today?

What is the Sunday SalonImagine some university library's vast reading room. It's filled with people--students and faculty and strangers who've wandered in. They're seated at great oaken desks, books piled all around them,and they're all feverishly reading and jotting notes in their leather-bound journals as they go. Later they'll mill around the open dictionaries and compare their thoughts on the afternoon's literary intake....That's what happens at the Sunday Salon, except it's all virtual. Every Sunday the bloggers participating in that week's Salon get together--at their separate desks, in their own particular time zones--and read. And blog about their reading. And comment on one another's blogs. Think of it as an informal, weekly, mini read-a-thon, an excuse to put aside one's earthly responsibilities and fall into a good book. Click here to join the Salon.

The Sunday Post is a meme hosted by Kimba at Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It's a chance to share news and recap the past week.

Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia at The Printed Page. We share books that we found in our mailboxes last week. 
 It is now being hosted here.

Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews in which you can share the books you've acquired.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is where we share what we read this past week, what we hope to read this week…. and anything in between!  This is a great way to plan out your reading week and see what others are currently reading as well… you never know where that next “must read” book will come from! I love being a part of this and I hope you do too! It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is now being hosted at The Book Date.


  1. I already know that you and your husband are going to do fine. It is exciting and scary, I'm sure, but you will make it, I have no doubt. You are that kind of person, with the emphasis on kind. Can't wait to see photos from the trip.

  2. Retirement is going to be great for ya’ll. The freedom. Your trip to Italy sounds just amazing. My husbands family it Italian and his great grandmother came to America when she was 14 years old. the traditions they have are definfiely ones to live by.

  3. Welcome home!! I've been waiting (not so patiently) to hear all about the trip. Sounds like it was FABULOUS and the perfect way to begin this new chapter in your personal narrative.
    Take time to rest and contemplate... but know we are so very excited to hear of your adventure - and your insights.

  4. You have some good points, I am growing tomatoes at the moment in my back yard last year they were great hopeing the same this year. I do not have a Twitter of Facebook account and get along with this one fine, it's the only connection I need

  5. Congratulations on your retirement!! I have been a retired teacher for six years and say the same thing everyone else says: “I don’t know how I worked.” You will be happily busy. will LOVE it.

    Italy sounded like a wonderful trip for you.

  6. Welcome home!! Glad to hear that your trip went well and there are obviously wonderful aspects that you'd love to share with us, right? As to retirement, well, remember to just take a minute or a day or a week or a month and 'just breathe'. It's going to be fine and you guys will find your balance. Good luck!

  7. Wow, what an mind-blowing experience! I love the idea of living life the way they do in Italy. And those tomatoes: amazing!

    Enjoy carving out your new life post-retirement. I love what mine is like, and I haven't even scratched the surface. Not enough traveling, for one thing.

    Have a great week, and here are MY WEEKLY UPDATES

  8. We have really good tomatoes here in Europe. Well, some places in Europe. Apparently, my boyfriend (who originally comes from the UK) also didn't know tomatoes could be amazing till he tried them where I live (in Lithuania). Apparently they have like plastic tomatoes over there. So sad! So maybe try the farmer's market? SOMEONE should have good ones. And the workweek here is 40 hours per week.

    It's good to hear you loved your job, but it's also good to hear you're retired - that opens up a whole new life. Over here, they've been raising the age of retirement, so my generation (I'm 30) will probably never be able to retire at all. The next time they raise men's retirement age, it will be higher than the average age men die at. Which is sad.

    But! Meanwhile I'm just glad some people I know can still do it. Enjoy your free time :) and I hope you can get creative with what you want to do with it as well. I imagine you'll probably be blogging more now :)

    Evelina @ AvalinahsBooks

  9. What a wonderful experience! I think travel is a wise way to get yourself in the right mind space for this transition. Good for you!

  10. I know what you mean about the tomatoes - the ones I buy from the greengrocers that were grown just up the road taste amazing. I think once you come back from a wonderful trip, doing a Life Stocktake is a great idea, especially as you are at a major crossroads in your life. Without wanting to sound flippant or dismissive, I expect the very fact that you are processing the next phase so carefully means that you won't simply find yourself drifting anywhere... I hope you have a wonderful summer, leading to a fantastic and rewarding retirement.

  11. One of my pet peeves is American waiters taking plates away from the table before everyone is finished. I now leave my utensils separated and refuse to let them take my plate until we are ready. It's quite satisfying. So glad you had a wonderful holiday!

  12. You have so many possibilities, it will be impossible to decide what to do first,

  13. I haven't had an Italian tomato but grocery store tomatoes are just sadness - especially compared to a garden fresh one. I can see that freedom being a bit overwhelming. I'm a very structured person and when I first became a stay at home mom it was a hard adjustment and that was with having to deal with school schedules and whatnot! I can't wait to see what you do with this new adventure. Have a great week!

  14. Congratulations on your retirements! How wonderful. You're such an active, curious, passionate person that I know you will a wonderful active, curious and passionate retirement. I know you'll fill it with great things, great people and great books. You will have time to grow your own tomatoes- it's not hard- even I can do it! I prefer growing cherry tomatoes to big ones as they need less care, but the taste is still worth it. I hope you post some more about your holiday (and your retirement).

  15. Welcome home! I’ve never had a good tomato. I like them on/in stuff, but I can’t eat one by itself. I guess I have to try an Italian tomato.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

  16. Welcome home! I personally love tomatoes with salt. It is one of my favorite ways to eat tomatoes. Home grown tomatoes are personally the best!

    Enjoy your retirement!

    Tina @ As Told By Tina

  17. Welcome home. I loved Italy, too, and am trying to figure out how to live there.

  18. I totally agree about those tomatoes! We've been loving our homegrown ones, but they will only last a little longer and it makes me sad to go back to store bought. Yuck. So glad you loved your trip! It is so true - all your points. I actually have thought about how weird it will be when the kiddos are out of the house and it's just the husband and I... A definite change for sure. I hope it's a fabulous new stage for you!

    Tressa @ Wishful Endings

  19. What an amazing and transformative trip! We just picked strawberries today, and the difference between the local berries, fresh from the field and the ones we buy in the store, shipped up from California, is ridiculous. Like, oh, they're supposed to be red all the way through? And sweet? And flavorful? Off season tomatoes are another disappointment. I suspect we've gotten so used to being able to get fruits and vegetables year round that we've forgotten how amazing they are when they're fresh and local.

  20. I can't speak for everyone but I feel as if I am battling one crisis every day. It should not be this hard to get through the day. I shouldn't have to give myself pep talk every time I head to work. I shouldn't shudder every time I open my appointment book. And honestly, with Bourdain's recent suicide, i think many are reevaluating what's important. I mean, he had the best job, ate the most delicious food and traveled to some awesome places and it still wasn't enough. What does that mean for the average folk out there?

  21. What a fantastic trip and yes Italians are great with tomatoes. One married my aunt many years ago here in NZ and I remember biting into many a tasty tomato. Of course now they are grown for shelf life and only look good. Ones I grow myself in summer are always better.

  22. Wow, your Italy trip sounds AMAZING! And I love the life lessons you picked up there - all very valuable. Coincidentally, we just sent our college son off to Italy for 3 weeks for a study abroad program - I hope he finds it just as enlightening!

    And I applaud your positive attitude about this new stage of life! My husband is 11 years older than me and wants to retire in 2 years (well, he wanted to retire years ago, but we still have 2 more years of college to pay for :) ) - I am terrified of the thought of him being him with me all day, everyday! I cherish that quiet time each day to get my writing done and recharge in the solitude.

    Congratulations on retirement! A trip to Italy sounds like the perfect way to kick it off!


    2018 Big Book Summer Challenge

  23. We're growing tomatoes at home this year, first time we've been able to in all our years of living in the Bay Area. I'm looking forward to them. Your trip sounds lovely. My weekly updates

  24. I'm glad you enjoyed the holiday so much. No. 4 is important but in my case the connection is very often via social media (in different forms)

  25. It sounds like you have come back from Italy with a lot more than just new memories made - all the things you picked up there sound like they have come at the perfect time in life also. It is great to hear you had such a wonderful holiday!

  26. Sounds like you had a WONDERFUL time! You'll get used to all the changes.

  27. I agree with all of the truths you have listed! And as far as your husband's and your retirement, yes it is exciting and scary, but you'll figure it out just fine. One thing my husband and I have discovered is that we don't have to eat all three meals together every single day now that we're home. A little time apart is healthy. :) And don't worry about trying to remember what day of the week it is and don't feel guilty about sleeping two hours later than you used to! You'll find your groove. :)


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